Founded in 1972, J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College is the youngest and among the largest of the 23 colleges in the Virginia Community College System (VCCS). The college is named in honor of the late Lieutenant Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, J. Sargeant Reynolds, who championed legislation creating the state-supported community college system and publically took positions that, at the time, were courageous on education improvement, economic development, and equal opportunity regardless of race or life circumstance.

The former Sydnor and Hundley furniture store on Grace Street in Richmond served as the first location for the college where it began offering classes in engineering technology. The first campus opened in Henrico County on Parham Road in 1974. Within a decade, Reynolds had campuses in downtown Richmond on East Jackson Street and in Goochland County near the courthouse.

Reynolds Community College (Reynolds) and Brightpoint Community College collaborated in 2003 to create the Community College Workforce Alliance (CCWA), a combined workforce development entity to provide business, industry, and government in the region with a single source for workforce development.

Reynolds currently offers two-year occupational/technical programs, transfer programs, and career studies certificate programs requiring less than one-year of full-time study. Having enrolled more than 346,000 persons in credit courses since its opening, Reynolds Community College continues to strive to meet the aspirations of its namesake to provide "a practical and economic answer to the future educational needs of thousands of ... Virginians."